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May 2014 - Posts

  • Defining Success is Always Step One

    May 29 2014

    I had the pleasure of attending Innovation Enterprise's conference on web and social analytics, held in San Francisco. Topics ranged from Google's Analytics Advocate discussing in-app metrics to eBay's Behavioral Insights lead providing an in-depth analysis of the conversion funnel of today's largest online marketplace. Despite the overabundance of data scientists in attendance, most of the speakers initiated their topics with one central idea: Define success first!

    While a data conference will always have the potential for a full on math geek-out, the conversations focused primarily on the fundamentals of using data to drive business and marketing in today's current economy and why clearly defining goals first matters. Without knowing what you're aiming for, you'll never know if you ultimately achieve it. Without knowing where you want to end up, it's incredibly difficult to know where to start.

    I found it very refreshing and reassuring that even in a room full of people who are capable of developing algorithms to make sense of the most convoluted of data sets, the focus was still on where to start… because too often we do not. We jump to the middle, skipping some of the most simple yet critical steps of the process.

    And even though we do our best to harp on this same point, day in and day out, I left the conference with a renewed drive to make sure that we always start the process in the right place, and not just when initiating a project or campaign. Every time we feel the need to jump to tactics, execution or instituting a change, it's critical that we stop, take a breath, and make sure that we're starting at step 1.


    Aaron Dubois - VP Digital

  • CCO Howie Cohen offers insight into Smokey Bear campaign’s timelessness

    May 23 2014

    Creative veteran Howie Cohen appeared in two articles as an expert resource on Smokey Bear’s social media- and millennial-friendly makeover ahead of his 70th birthday. Known in his classic ad campaign as a tough, no-nonsense park ranger, Smokey is now a wise old bear who loves hugs— this humanizing effect creates an emotional bond and allows people to care about Smokey, says Howie.

    From the LA Times:
    The character has endured because it delivers on major tenets of memorable advertising, including relevance, connectivity and emotion, said Howie Cohen, a veteran advertising executive.

    "With Smokey, you can feel the humanity and the vulnerability of the character," said Cohen, chief creative officer of the Phelps Group in Santa Monica. "He is the expert on fire safety, but he lives in the forest so you want to protect him and all his little furry friends.... That's anthropomorphism at its finest."

    From the Washington Post:
    Smokey rarely says much — in fact, he really only says one thing: “Only YOU can prevent wildfires,” a motto that changed slightly over the years from its original focus on forest fires.  But FCB’s advertising gurus have produced a new Smokey image that is fresh, modern, and perhaps more humanizing.

    “With Smokey, you can feel the humanity and the vulnerability of the character,” veteran ad executive Howie Cohen told the Los Angeles Times. “He is the expert on fire safety, but he lives in the forest so you want to protect him and all his little furry friends.

    “That’s anthropomorphism at its finest.”

  • Twitter profiles get a makeover – Updates make your profile a whole lot prettier

    May 20 2014

    After a few weeks of testing the new features among a select group of celebrities, politicians and influencers, as of April 22, Twitter's new web profiles were officially rolled out to the public. What does this mean for you or your brand? Visuals on Twitter are more important than ever.

    Key updates

    • Larger profile images and introduction of a header image. Your profile image is now 400 x 400 pixels and the new header image 1500 x 500 pixels
    • New features (and terminology):
      • Best Tweets: Tweets that have received more engagement will appear slightly larger
      • Pinned Tweets: You can pin one of your tweets to the top of your page, similar to highlighting a Facebook post
      • Filtered Tweets: Now you can choose which timeline to view when checking out other profiles. Select from these options: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies.

    Additional changes include an update on how trending topics are viewed and a Pinterest like display of your followers list. Read more and get tips on updating your profile here.

    As marketers, it's important for us to adjust our content strategies for Twitter as it becomes a more visual platform and keep these changes in mind when thinking about what content to post.


    Janette Rizk - VP, Social Media

  • Sony Launches All-in-One Social Broadcast Channel for World Cup

    May 16 2014


    According to a study released at CES in January, 44 percent of Americans use a second device while watching television. Knowing those second screens are likely on social media, Sony just launched One Stadium Live, a social broadcast channel that pools conversations about the FIFA World Cup on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ into a single platform.

    Though soccer is still growing in popularity in the United States, the World Cup remains the premier sporting event worldwide, reaching two billion viewers for the last tournament four years ago. Since then, Twitter use has grown by 13,500 percent and big soccer matches and news regularly trend worldwide. In fact, Twitter predicts 60 percent of all tweets during matches will be World Cup-related. This creates a huge opportunity for brands targeting soccer fans to listen intently and jump into the conversation. Gone are the days of straight disruption; marketers must now figure out how to integrate into daily routines and go where their target already is.

    While many social media tools populate feeds using hashtags and keywords, One Stadium Live goes deeper. It uses technology to analyze the meaning of posts and remove unwanted bots and retweets from the conversation. Integrating social conversation and content, the mobile-optimized website includes the latest news and statistics for all 32 teams in six different languages.

    Perhaps most important to Sony’s social experiment is what happens once the World Cup concludes in July. If successful, Sony plans to adapt One Stadium Live technology to create a second screen experience for major sporting events, creating opportunities to reach more fans in the comfort of their own mobile devices.

    Susan Shimotsu - Public Relations Specialist

  • A Lesson from the UX Fail Archives

    May 12 2014

    Sometimes you need to be reminded that user experience is not just digital. We will always benefit from thinking about the end user experience from start to finish when developing a product or campaign. If the non-profit group who designed these pencils had done that, then the message to students would have been very different!

    The 'Too Cool pencils' image circulated around the internet a few months ago. Click to read one of the several stories about it.


    Jennifer Hatfield - UX Strategist

  • Facebook launches Newswire and Twitter’s new profiles – Timing reflects platform envy

    May 05 2014

    At the end of April, Facebook announced the launch of FB Newswire, a Facebook page of journalist curated news stories from across the Facebook universe. The page is part of a partnership with Storyful, a news agency that aggregates news content shared on social networks. The goal of the newswire is to target journalists and provide more real-time news updates akin to Twitter, often credited for breaking major news. Read more here.

    The same week, Twitter rolled out its new web profiles to the public, a move that makes Twitter profiles a lot more visual - with larger profile photos, cover images, pinned tweets and real-time notifications - profiles now look and feel a lot more like Facebook. For details on what these new updates mean for Twitter profiles, click here.

    Is this timing just a coincidence or a sign of what's to come as social platforms compete for users and advertising dollars? It's TBD.


    Janette Rizk - VP, Social Media

  • The Many Faces of Today's Web

    May 02 2014

    You're creating a new website. It should look great on a desktop, phone and tablet, right? Of course! Should it also load quickly on a mobile network? Duh!

    For years, we have been building websites built for a single desktop resolution, so we've grown accustomed to a certain project timeline. These days, we try to shoehorn in the expectation that it should be optimized for all devices but it's a far more complex landscape that requires many additional considerations. I hope to bring a few to light.

    Responsive Design
    Each device size we target requires re-thinking the design and how best to fit each site element into the available space, starting with a smart UX strategy. Each variation on the design requires additional programming. Page layouts on phone can differ significantly from their desktop counterparts so additional development time is non-trivial.

    Pixel Density
    More devices are now using high-density pixel displays, known as retina displays. This requires the creation an additional version of every image on the site that we want to look sharp on a retina display, at twice the pixel size as would be rendered on a standard pixel density device. Logic needs to be built so that the server knows which version of the image to serve up. We don't want to serve up higher file size images than the page needs to display crisply.

    Page Render Speed
    Connected to broadband, large images can download quickly, with minimal impact on page render speed. But, on a mobile network, the same image can cause a noticeable delay in page rendering. And while a desktop computer can quickly download and display an image that is 1,200 pixels wide, that image is likely several hundred kilobytes in size. If there's a few of these images on a page, the total page size adds up very quickly. Being that a mobile device can't render anything this wide anyway, the best practice is to create smaller versions of the images, customized for each types of tablets and phones so, again, we need to devise a way for the page to know which size to request from the server. On a mobile network, hundreds of kilobytes are easily shaved off a page total download size this way, yielding a significantly faster page load.

    Just as developers have always needed to create variations of the code to get working across all browsers so, too, do we need to consider the various mobile operating systems. The more sophisticated the functionality a site attempts to employ, the more time needed for not only cross-browser — but now cross-mobile operating system — testing and tuning.

    The only downside to any of these? You guessed it. They all take time that must be budgeted into project timelines. Let's make expectations clear up front with a thorough discovery and project definition!


    Greg Nason - Web Developer